Have you ever thought of scuba diving as your next family holiday? It was always on my mind for many years and it got materialised when my youngest son reached 10. That is the minimum age requirement for PADI Open Water Diver course. Since all my family members could swim and float reasonably well (part of the requirements), I waited no more and scouted for affordable and suitable arrangement that could fit our schedules. Due to different school holidays and other commitments, the most suitable time was during tail end of national school holidays, which co-inside with fasting month.
DIVING AT PULAU PERHENTIAN KECIL
Perhentian Island was my preferred destination as I had never been there prior to this and it was one of the closest diving destinations from Klang Valley. We drove to Kuala Besut Jetty, which was 500 km++ away from Klang Valley. It took us 6.5 hours to drive to Kuala Besut Jetty; so make sure there are at least 2 drivers. We stopped at Masjid Kampung Gemuruh, Kuala Trengganu at 5am for suhoor and after subuh prayers, we continued driving to Kuala Besut Jetty. We took the 8:15 am boat ride to Pulau Perhentian Kecil. As soon as we arrived, we checked into Senja Bay Resort and quickly walked about 150 meters to Anti-Gravity Divers.
This sharing is based on my experience and does not represent how the course should be like or how others would have experienced.
PADI Open Water Diver Course is a 4 full-days course. We popped by the diving center at 10 am and were greeted by sweet Ili, one of the instructors at the center. There were 2 instructors assigned to five of us – Ili and Skunk. The course consisted of 5 sections of knowledge development i,e theory, 5 Confined Water Dives (where you learn important skills) and 4 Open Water Dives where you practice diving skills further. We went through 3 sections on the first day, followed by one confined water dive at Romantic Bay. We had to watch 3 videos and went though review questions and quizzes upon completion of every section. There was also a book we could refer to throughout the course. All content, material and exams were in English, so a good command and understanding in English was pretty important for this course.
Our session started at 8:15 am and after briefing, gearing up and buddy check, we went to Sharila Bay for our second dive, followed by our third dive at 12 noon at Batu Nisan, along Pasir Panjang. We were taught how to fix diving equipment and apply important skills in the water which includes clearing masks whilst in the water, entering and exiting the water and sharing regulator, After the third dive we watched video 4 and 5.
We continued Open Water 2 at Batu Nisan, Perhentian Kecil, followed by Open Water 3 at 3 Ruang, Perhentian Besar. We had to perform more skills in the water like putting on the equipment in the water, dropping weights, how to perform emergency ascend and many more. We also had to swim 200 meters and float for 10 minutes.
In the afternoon, the instructors went through sections 3, 4 , 5 & the RDP (Recreational Dive) table with us. Indeed there were loads of learning at this course. We got to learn about equipment, science, safety, communication and how to care for each other. How did my children ages 11-16 cope with the amount of info they had to digest? Pretty ok, as we had very good and patient instructors who made diving enjoyable.
The last day was not as strenuous as days before since we only did one dive; Open Water 4, followed by final theory exams. At the Open Water 4, we got to learn how to use navigation compass on the surface and under water. After a late check-out, we took a boat ride to Kuala Besut at 4 pm, after which we drove back home.
FASTING & DIVING
Fasting didn’t have any impact on me, but my youngest and second were dehydrated and exhausted on the third day, so they broke fast. As for my husband who could get sea-sick easily – having food early during suhoor eliminated sea-sickness throughout the course. The heat in the afternoon did make us feel sleepy and lethargic, especially when we had to watch long videos and read books.
ONE PERSON BUDGET for 4 DAYS 3 NIGHTS
Food on the island was reasonably priced and there were many places you could dine in. We broke fast at Senja Bay every night as it was close to comfort, sunset was marvelous and there was a good selection of food to choose from. Here’s a good budget for a person. You can save or spend more based on transport and accommodation preference.
- Accommodation : RM290. We got an air-conditioned family room with 6 beds at Senja Bay . Breakfast (suhoor) provided. Do bring insect repellent as you get a lot of mosquitoes at night. You can save more by choosing cheaper chalets, but many come without air-conditioning, fans only.
- Return Boat Transfer : RM60
- Food : RM120. You can get a decent meal for RM15-20.
- Road Transport (Toll & Petrol & Secure Car Park) : RM38. As long as you can get at least 2 drivers, it is much cheaper to drive. If you take the plane, you would need to take a cab from Kota Bahru to Kuala Besut Jetty.
- Diving Course : RM990 by Anti-Gravity Divers
TOTAL : RM1,498 / USD360
TIPS FOR A BETTER DIVING EXPERIENCE @PERHENTIAN :
- Bring your own water containers. Reduce plastic use and refill your container for drinking water
- If you like to make your own hot drinks in your room, find out if your room has water boiler. You can bring one if they don’t provide any
- Beware of insects! Bring along insect repellent.
- If you wear contact lenses, make sure you bring extras or remove them when required. You’d need to swim under water without mask on and eyes opened for a few meters.
- Beware of sharp objects and dead corals that might hurt your feet. Bring and wear aqua shoes and get a pair of flippers that would fit your feet with aqua shoes on.
- Ask preferred Diving Center to make recommendations for accommodation close to the center and assist boat transfer.
Now that we are a family of scuba divers – we could enjoy our beach vacation more – beyond snorkeling and canoeing. There are so much to explore, see and learn from the marine life!
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